Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet), the country’s largest mobile telecom operator, has adjusted data bundle tariffs by 60 percent after receiving the go-ahead from the industry regulator early last month.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), approved data bundle price increases of up to 190 percent early August, but reports say Econet only implemented an increase of about half the approved figure at the time.
Econet said the latest adjustment was in response to inflation movement, local currency devaluation and increasing network input costs. Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rose to a 10-year high of 837 percent in July, up from 737 percent in June, after prices of goods and services went up due to the impact of drought, foreign currency shortages and the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“We remain committed to deliver the best quality data services and the best value for money for our customers,” Econet said, stressing the need to continue investing in infrastructure to maintain quality service.
According to the new data bundle tariffs, Econet subscribers will now be paying $13 for a daily 20 megabyte (MB) data bundle up, from $8, while 100MB bundles have been adjusted from $42 to $67 per month. Econet’s monthly 8G private Wi-Fi bundle will now cost $960 from $600.
NetOne subscribers are currently paying $16 for a 20MB daily bundle and $100 for a weekly 150MB bundle, while Telecel is charging $15 for daily 50MB and $100 for a monthly 220MB bundle.
The latest data bundle price adjustment comes after fuel, a major component in the telecommunications sector, increased by over 230 percent to $83.36 per litre for diesel in August, up from $24.93 per litre in June.
Prices of other crucial components for the operations of telcom firms, such as imported software and hardware products and license fees, have also risen significantly in the last few months after the official foreign currency auction rate moved from $57:US$1 in June to $84:US$1 in August.
Earlier in the year the rate was 1:25.
Industry experts, however, say despite the recent data price reviews Zimbabwe still has some of the lowest mobile data tariffs in the region at US$0,01 per megabyte followed by Tanzania (US$0,02) and South Africa (US$0,025).
At the same time, Botswana has the highest data tariff at US$0,08 per megabyte followed by Namibia and Zambia and Kenya and Mozambique who charge US$0,05 and US$0,03 per megabyte respectively.
The regional average data tariff is US$0,04 per megabyte.
Early this year, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Dr Gift Machengete, told Parliament that the country’s data tariffs were lagging behind regional countries.
“As Potraz we have also considered the costs of the operator first so that they keep on running and after that we have been tracking the cost of data before we come up with the tariffs. We do not just put up tariffs,” he said.